Saturday, October 12, 2019

Saturday Morning Hot Links

*It's ALCS Game 1 Day! The Astros are 2-0 in Game 1 of the ALCS in franchise history. Any narrative you read about this series that tries to put this series in context of the seven games they played in 2019 is a stupid narrative. The South Yonkers Yankees were super-banged up in April, the Astros were super-banged up in June. It doesn't matter. But if the Astros can win Game 1 with Verlander and Cole coming up, it puts them in the absolute driver's seat.


*After they played their last game against each other (before G1, not including the postseason) on June 23:
Houston: 58-23
New York: 54-31

*It's Masahiro Tanaka going for the Yankees tonight. Some numbers:

-In seven career appearances against the Astros, Tanaka is 0-2 with a 6.62 ERA / 1.42 WHIP, allowed a .283/.333/.566 slash line, with 25K:9BB and eleven home runs allowed. The .899 OPS he's allowed to the Astros is the highest of any team he has faced.
-Four of those appearances were at Minute Maid Park, where he's 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA / 1.27 WHIP, with 17K:6BB in 22IP.
-Most of the damage done to Tanaka's career line vs Houston came on May 14, 2017 when the Astros tagged him up for 7H/8ER, 4K:3BB in 1.2IP.
-At Minute Maid on April 8, he threw 6IP, 3H/1ER, 3K:2BB in a 4-3 New York loss. Must have been that dreaded Jankee bullpen what let him down. He faced Houston at Yankee Stadium again on June 22 and allowed 8H/2ER, 1K:1BB in 6IP. The Yankees won 7-5.
-Sarah Langs: There have been six instances of two 100-win teams meeting in the postseason prior to the World Series. The team with the better regular season record has won five of those series.

*Basic Game Info:
Game 1: Tanaka vs. Greinke, 7:08pm Central Saturday
Game 2: Paxton vs Verlander, 7:08pm Central Sunday
Game 3: Severino vs Cole, 3:08pm Central Tuesday
Game 4: 7:08pm Central Wednesday
Game 5: 7:08pm Central Thursday
Game 6: 3:08pm or 7:08pm Central Saturday
Game 7: 6:38pm Central Sunday

*Hinch, on the Yankees:
This is a rivalry that's been created over the last few years, and everybody will think back to the 2017 epic seven-game series and expect this to top it. I hope it does. And I hope it's the same result.

*J.R. Richard will throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Mike Hampton prior to Game 1. Dub.

*The New York Post's Joel Sherman says the "relentless" Astros have one weakness the Yankees can exploit: the bullpen.

*Hunter Atkins: The Astros' bullpen is ready to be aggressive.

*Richard Justice: Seven bold predictions for the 2019 ALCS, in which he maps out how the Astros win in seven games.

*The Maven Presents Sports Illustrated's Matt Martell: Three questions will define the 2019 ALCS. Game 4 could be pivotal.

*Jerome Solomon writes that these Astros are not the previous Astros incarnations: they deliver under pressure. Jim Crane:
It never gets old. There is a lot of championship chemistry here. And this team is experienced, and you'll see them play well under pressure, and that's what it takes to win...Clutch players deliver in pressure situations.

Put this in the Hot Links yesterday morning, but I thought it was worth digging a little deeper:

Postseason Career:
Craig Biggio: 2HR in 185 PAs. .234/.295/.323, 30K:13BB.
Jeff Bagwell: 2HR in 129 PAs. .226/.364/.321, 25K:19BB.

George Springer: 11HR in 169 PAs, .285/.361/.570, 42K:18BB
Jose Altuve: 11HR in 165 PAs, .278/.339/.536, 26K:14BB

*Brian T. Smith: Minute Maid in October truly is Home Sweet Home.

*Tom Verducci: Gerrit Cole is trying to become 2019's Madison Bumgarner and Bob Gibson.

*The Yankees last played on Monday, the Astros on Thursday. So here's The Athletic's Cliff Corcoran on whether there's anything behind the Better-Rested Narrative in the postseason. (Short version: not really).

*Well HERE's some bullcrap: The qualifying offer price is actually going down this offseason (mainly thanks to the 2019 salaries - not including signing bonuses - of Harper/Machado/Trout). And speaking of shifting the goalposts for MLB owners, Josh Reddick - who gives as good a quote as anyone on the team - had this to say about Jim Crane's ability to pay Gerrit Cole:
I think given what our front-office and what Jim wants to do, and if they wanted to make that move and get over the fact of paying the luxury tax fee, then I think it's no problem for them. 

And it's not! Jim Crane is worth $2.5 billion and do remember that there's a group of people that bought the Astros with him, he's the majority owner, but there are others in that group. Yes, the Astros would go over the luxury tax in 2020, but they get back under it in 2021. How? The Astros have $37.4m coming off the books after the 2020 season just in Gurriel, Brantley, and Reddick. 

*Forrest Whitley is DEALING in...the Arizona Fall League. Last month I took a look at how Forrest Whitley's season unfolded and how he basically cost himself a shot with Houston in 2019. It'd be pretty nice of Whitley to have developed according to the Astros' timeline and not his own and be the Josh James of the 2019 postseason but here we are...tweeting about spin rate in Arizona.

*Remember Jacob Nix? He was the 5th Round pick in the 2014 Astros draft who thought he had worked out a sort-of tandem deal with the Astros and Brady Aiken, before Aiken's UCL proved to be very small. The Astros didn't sign Aiken OR Nix. It looked very bad. Anyway, Nix was arrested last week for trying to break into someone's house through the doggie-door, got kicked in the face, then got tased in the chest through the doggie-door. Nix was drafted by the Padres but missed most of 2019 thanks to a damaged right UCL. Weird.

*The Athletic's Evan Drellich: Rob Manfred is Doing The Data on how to fix something that doesn't need to be fixed.

*Stephanie Apstein: On Clayton Kershaw.

*Curt Schilling really wants to manage the Phillies. Related, with an equal chance of success: I really want to switch abilities with Alex Bregman.

*The New Yorker: Amazon pits us against ourselves.

*Popular Mechanics: After 500 years, we now know that Da Vinci's bridge design works.

*Two Muslim Israeli plumbers didn't charge a Haifa-based Holocaust survivor to work on her house.


*A Musical Selection, courtesy of My Friend US Cocksman: